Friday, May 4, 2012

At the Movies – May 2012 – Part 3: Most Anticipated Films

Must See of the Month:

The Avengers (Joss Whedon) – Action Adventure – May 4
Summary: Building off the other Marvel movies, Nick Fury (the director of S.H.I.E.L.D.) assembles the Avengers to save the Earth from Loki and his army. Filmmakers: Answering many a prayer from fanboy and fangirl alike, Marvel picked Joss Whedon to write and direct the film (a perfect choice given his past work in film, TV and comics – notably Astonishing X-Men). Whedon has a fantastic group working on the film with composer Alan Silvestri (Captain America: The First Avenger), cinematographer Seamus McGarvey (Atonement) and production designer James Chinlund (The Fountain). Cast: The Avengers are made of Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye). Then there are the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents played by Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders and Clark Gregg. Characters from other Marvel movies show up as well: Gwyneth Paltrow, Stellan Skarsgard and Tom Hiddleston. And finally rounding out the wonderful cast are Paul Bettany and Lou Ferrigno providing voice work. Expectations: The Avengers tops cinemagoers’ most anticipated movie of the summer (while mine is still The Dark Knight Rises), and advanced reviews from the premier and international release in April have been abundantly positive praising the film as highly entertaining, action packed and with a great sense of humor (crediting Whedon with making a superhero film on par with, if not better than, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 and Chris Nolan’s The Dark Knight, which is saying a lot). 2012 will probably be remembered as the year of brilliant summer blockbusters (this, The Dark Knight Rises, Prometheus, The Amazing Spider-Man, and more), and The Avengers very well might be the biggest and best of the bunch. It certainly is the must-see of May. Trailer: Here. Review.

Worth Checking Out:

Dark Shadows (Tim Burton) – Comedy Fantasy – May 11
Summary: Barnabas Collins was turned into a vampire by an evil witch because he favored another over her. After being imprisoned for many decades, Barnabas is set free and returns to his ancestral home, to find his descendants and a completely foreign way of life. However, when the evil witch again returns, Barnabas must protect his new found family. Filmmakers: Director Tim Burton is again working with star Johnny Depp (who is also producing the film) – their eighth collaboration.  Burton is also again working with composer Danny Elfman (Batman) and production designer Rick Heinrichs (Sleepy Hollow). New to the mix is my favorite cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel (Amelie), making for a brilliant group. Cast: While Depp stars, the film also features Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jonny Lee Miller, Chloe Grace Moretz, Gulliver McGrath, Helena Bonham Carter (her seventh film with Burton), Jackie Earle Haley, and Bella Heathcote. Expectations: Tim Burton (like with many of us) was one of my favorite filmmakers when I was younger. I loved Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Batman, and Ed Wood (and even enjoyed Sleep Hollow in high school), but since then his work (save maybe Big Fish) has been all style over content and not very good at all (you know deep down I am right). That said, Dark Shadows looks like a possible return to form for Burton, and I am actually excited to see a Tim Burton film for the first time since probably 1999. The cast is fantastic, and Depp seems a perfect fit for the character and tone of the film. Gothic style, comedy and good characters seem to all be meshing again for Burton. Trailer: Here. Review.

Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson) – Drama – May 25
Summary: Youngsters in beginnings of love Sam and Suzy run away from their small New England town, causing a local search party to form (made up of quirky characters). Filmmakers: After taking a one film detour into the world of stop motion animation with Fantastic Mr. Fox, writer-director-producer Wes Anderson is back in live action features, again writing with Roman Coppola (they also wrote The Darjeeling Limited together with Jason Schwartzman). Anderson often works with the same people over and over, and this is again true as composer Alexandre Desplat (Fantastic Mr. Fox), cinematographer Robert Yeoman (who has shot all of Anderson’s live action films) and production designer Adam Stockhausen (art director on The Darjeeling Limited) all return to the mix. Cast: Speaking of frequent collaborators, Bill Murray makes his sixth appearance and Schwartzman his fourth in an Anderson film. Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Frances McDormand, and Bob Balaban also feature in support, while newcomers Kara Hayward and Jared Ryan star. Expectations: Much like The Tree of Life last year, Moonrise Kingdom has taken up the mantel of the best anti-blockbuster film of the summer going into the summer (and is playing Cannes, much like The Tree of Life). Personally, I am looking forward to this probably more so than any other film this month as Wes Anderson is my favorite working filmmaker – his style and characters are so unique, witty and sort of tragic. A knock against him is that his style never really adapts or changes to the material, and he does not grow as a filmmaker, continually making the same sort of films. And while this is to some extent true, all six of his previous features are wonderful, with their rich characters, staged and artistically stylized camera movements, deadpan humor, and brilliant soundtracks. Anderson is one of the most original auteur filmmakers working today, and his new film looks great. Trailer: Here. Review.

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